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DENVER - Gov. Bill Ritter was set to stay overnight in the hospital after he suffered multiple rib fractures on his right side Tuesday morning when he was involved in a bicycle crash.


A spokesman for the governor says the crash happened at 23rd Avenue and High Street just after 6 a.m.

The governor was taken in an ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries.

"He is OK," Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for the governor, said. "He's conscious. He is laughing and joking, talking with family, talking with doctors as they continue to evaluate him."

"If you've ever hurt your ribs, it's very painful. So while he's laughing and in good spirits, he's in a bit of pain," Dreyer said.

Dreyer says the governor is an avid cyclist who rides with a group of friends two to three times a week, and was with a group of four other riders when the crash occurred.

"He rides a road bike," Dreyer said. "And may need to be riding a newer road bike after today."

Dreyer says Ritter's front tire made contact with the tire of a bicyclist in front of him. The contact sent the governor crashing to the ground, and took down another cyclist behind him.

According to Dreyer, the other cyclist who went down suffered an injured wrist.

Dreyer says Ritter was dressed for cold weather and therefore did not suffer from road rash too badly, but did hit his head when he fell.

"One of the things he said to me this morning was, 'Wear your helmet if you're riding a bike. Anybody who rides a bike without a helmet is just nuts.' And he was very fortunate, he knows he was very fortunate to have his helmet on," Dreyer said. "He always rides with his helmet and that would be the message."

Dreyer says Ritter's schedule was cleared for the day and Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien stood in for him at a couple of events. According to Dreyer, they will take it one day at a time in determining when Ritter will resume his work schedule. However, he added Ritter is still in charge of the state.

Seven-time Tour de France winner, and Aspen resident, Lance Armstrong got word of the crash and offered some kind words over Twitter: "I hear my good friend and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter had a bike crash and broke some ribs. Gov, be careful!! Get well soon."

According to Bicycle Colorado, Colorado has the fourth highest rate of commuters that primarily bicycle to work (1.2 percent of commuters). Colorado is ranked as the sixth safest state in the U.S. to be a bicyclist.
(KUSA-TV 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)